It may be many years before gay marriage becomes law but it seems to me that the battle is lost. We are trying to hold back the tide, but as Christians, our priority is telling people about Jesus and living a life full of his love. We need to explain how God’s way is best, but accept that not everyone agrees. We need to speak the truth about morality but speak it in love. We need to make sure that we welcome everyone to hear and believe the gospel and not ask them to sort their lives out first.
Get used to it
We need to get used to living with suffering as a consequence of being public Christians and stop trying to hold on to the notion that we are a Christian country. We need social and political engagement but with an acceptance that seeking to do good with a biblical framework puts us in the minority. We need to think carefully how our words are heard in a society that has corrupted language – where words like tolerance and equality and homophobia have a particular meaning that we may not accept but have to deal with.
We need to make sure we equally value, love and affirm all people without needing to value, love and affirm all behaviour.
Coalition for Marriage: good but…
I supported the Coalition for Marriage (C4M). Its aims are laudable – campaigning to preserve what is a good institution for society. As good citizens we want to protect people from making laws that damage individuals and society. Of course, the government’s approach on this has been undemocratic and the law change practically unnecessary. But to be realistic, marriage as God intended has not been practised by most people in this country for generations. Moreover, I’m not sure that the approach taken allowed a clear Christian voice to be heard.
I may be wrong but I suspect that the majority of people leading the opposition to gay marriage think that heterosexual, monogamous, lifelong marriage is best for society and best for each of us.
Many among those would be Christians, who believe God made us man and woman and that he calls us to follow his instructions. But for tactical reasons, they haven’t generally been saying that (unless they’re Catholic Priests). Watch and listen to the majority of Christians interviewed who oppose gay marriage. Do they ever say: “God commands us” or “because I love and follow Jesus I want to do his will in this area of my life.”? I’m not saying they are hypocrites or hiding anything. Surely some did make clear Christian statements which perhaps have not been reported. But it seems there was a tactical decision about how to win the argument. It doesn’t appear to be working.
I’m probably being very naïve but it seems like a position of weakness – a minority with no moral authority.
Are Christians just Traditionalists?
Even worse than that, it reinforces the idea that Christians are just traditionalists with little compassion or integrity.
It’s not that people are wildly in favour of gay marriage, but they’re just not going to oppose it unless they have a compelling reason to do so. Appealing to people’s sense of tradition and fair play, or frightening them with legal nightmare scenarios is not enough. Although 150 Tories voted against the bill and so there may be some hope the law is delayed, there is not enough general public opposition to stop it in the long term. We need masses of people to have a change of heart. Perhaps appealing to their consciences would have been a better approach. Perhaps saying God does not like immorality of any kind is politically foolish but at least it’s getting the truth out there.
Minority on a Mission
Christianity began and thrived when Christians were not proud members of the ruling elite but rather a maligned minority on a mission to tell people about Jesus – calling them receive his forgiveness and to live under his rule. Let’s focus on that. It’s time to get out of the bunker defending marriage and put our energy into releasing the lion of the gospel in our words and deeds.